Kris Comes to see Me
This was the Law of Attraction
----- in action!
I told Kris - not verbally, of course, but to God, the Universe and all its many wonders - that I could not travel to see him, so he was going to have to come and see me.
Then he had to go and drag Merle Haggard along, but... you take what you can get.
Not that I don't love Merle... I really do. It's just that I love Kris more.
Jamey Johnson was the surprise
guest. Figured I'd better get it out
there before y'all get pissed off at me.
The lights went down...Kris strolled onto the stage and started singing, 'Shipwrecked In The '80's'.
A roar went up from the Kris crowd. The Merle crowd gave polite
applause. Yeah, there was more of them. This was touted as The Merle Haggard
show... with little reference, if any, given to Kris Kristofferson. Like he was
an afterthought. Merle didn't feel that way, they've been doing shows together
for a couple years, on and off. And they have fun doing it... and Kris craftily
steals the show.
So here's Kris, standing alone on the stage, like he's used to, our Troubador traveling alone for the last 5 years or so... except the stage was not bare, but strewn with guitars, drums, keyboard and such, waiting for Kris to get done.
And when he was done, Kris introduced 'Merle Haggard and the Strangers'. Well, a deafening roar went up while I applauded politely as they went into 'Ramblin' Fever.'
I saw Merle in Nashville on August 13, 1995 at the Ryman Auditorium. No, my memory is not THAT good... I kept the ticket.
I didn't meet Merle after the show, but the most memorable thing was that I met Little Jimmy Dickens. I was sitting on a brick wall bordering flower gardens in the Ryman yard, when Little Jim walked over to me and started talking. I think he asked me how I liked the show or something... but I'm guessing it was because, as I was sitting, he could see eye to eye with me.
'Silver Wings' followed 'Ramblin' Fever'. The Merle fans were diggin' this. Kris fans were warming up to Merle, too, especially when he followed with 'I think I'll Just Stay Here And Drink.'
Kris brought the house down with 'Me & Bobby McGee.' 'Oh, THAT Kris...' Nobody doesn't know 'Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose.'
I wore my Vintage Star is Born T-shirt
Diane told me she would be wearing a purple shirt with a matching print long
skirt. Well, I'm sitting there outside the Celeste Center, trying to breathe in
the 90 plus temperature, waiting. And waiting. Got up and walked around,
thinking of buying some cotton candy. Hmmm... not for $4 in a bag. I'd of been a mess trying to eat that with my hands... what ever happened to the paper 'stick' they used to make them on??? Sigh.
I found a bathroom, walked through an air conditioned Market Place... went back out and waited. I only see a couple women in long skirts.
Finally, I notice a suspicious looking couple... wearing sunglasses. Well, so was I! I thought I'd seen them before... The guy kept looking at me funny as they passed. He turned around one more time. Something clicked and I raised my hand. They came back!
'So where's the damned
long skirt?' I asked Diane.
Kris' next song was the incredible, 'Here Comes That Rainbow Again.'
Then in fast progression, Merle ran through 'Mama Tried', 'Today I Started Loving You Again', which I probably irritated the men on each side of me by harmonizing with Merle, and 'Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star.'
Kris came back with 'Help Me Make It Through The Night', and then one I am not real familiar with, 'Love Is The Last Thing To Go.'
By now the crowd was into the duo, and when they went into
'Pancho and Lefty', they were thrilled to see Kris carry Willie's part. And you
know when 'Lefty split for OHIO', the roof went off that building!
I met Diane and Carter about an hour before the show, outside the Celeste Center. We went in and went to the merchandise table, where Carter bought Diane a Merle & Kris T-shirt and also a handkerchief with the same design.
Then we went and found Kathleen, and visited with her, her hubby, Pete, and 2 daughters... Kristin and Caroline. Had pictures taken, then all went to our assigned seats.
Merle's next song was one I haven't heard before, 'Runaway Mama', then followed with 'Going Where The Lonely Go.'
He next went into 'Folsom Prison Blues', doing an impersonation of
Johnny Cash! It was so funny, AND very good. I've seen him do Marty Robbins in videos from the Ralph Emery Show, but I hadn't seen him do Cash.
Kris then sang, 'Pilgrim - Chapter 33', the one with the 'walkin' contradiction,
partly truth, partly fiction', that he always said was all these other
guys...when in reality it is himself! I know these things. Then he did the one
he says is '...for my kids', 'From Here To Forever.'
As the concert hall filled up prior to the opening song, we were 'entertained' by a dude that was a thorn in the side of many an unsuspecting guest. Undoubtedly a plant, he blew a whistle at some folks, hooked a leash to others, shadowed people, and generally made a nusance of himself... much to the enjoyment of those already seated.
Well... amid a hulabaloo... Merle introduced a special guest, who I've already told you was Jamey Johnson. The crowd went wild as Jamey took the stage, hands in his pockets, no guitar, and tore our hearts out with 'Long Black Veil!' It was unexpected, out of the blue... but was it? In my reserch for pictures, I stumbled upon this one:
Maybe they were just practicing? Rehearsing? It appears Merle and Jamey will be performing together at the Tuscloosa Amphitheater on August 11th!
After Jamey Johnson left the stage, and the audience came back down to near normal, Merle started talking about introducing his band, The Strangers. He turned and pointed here and there, as the band shook hands with each other. Merle reached over and shook hands with his lead guitar player who you see behind him in the photo above, as Kris stepped to the microphone. 'It don't fall too far from the tree. Merle's lead guitar player is his son, Ben.' I had earlier said to my partner on my left he was good. He didn't respond, but that didn't stop me from saying, 'I said he was good!'
By now Kris was harmonizing with Merle on most of his songs, yet when Kris sang, Merle parked himself on a wooden stool and watched Kris appreciatively.
Next Merle gave us a stiring rendition of 'If I Could Only Fly', and then did one of Jimmie Rodgers' songs, the one about the Tuberculosis Rodgers died from, 'The TB Blues.' As it seemed to fall Merle singing 3 songs, sometimes with accompaniment from Kris, and then Kris doing two, Merle went into 'Are the Good Times Really Over For Good.'
However, this time, Kris only did one song... 'Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down'... which was where he might have sacrificed the song he wrote for me, 'Lovin' Me Was Easier', for Jamey Johnson's spot, before Merle started talking about the flood in Nashville...
'I donated a Martin guitar to the Country Music Hall of Fame', Merle said, after telling us about his induction. 'It went floating down the Cumberland River,' he continued, gesturing with a fiddle he'd picked up. 'I wrote a song about it.' It's the title song to his new album, 'Workin' in Tennessee'. I found a minute and a half video of it below. Not from this concert, but he did grace us with the entire song.
I'm giving you our finale` before the concert one, because I want to leave you mesmerized by Kris....
There was no encore... no meet and greet of any kind. Diane and Carter and I made our way back to Kathleen in the handicapped area. She was thrilled to tell us she had made eye contact with Kris at one point. I know how dramatic that is, I've had it happen performing and I've had it happen in an audience. Good on her! It's the same feeling from either side, so you could safely say, Kris felt the power as well.
We said our goodbyes to Kathleen and fam and Diane and Carter and I headed back out into the grueling heat. The only thing better was the sun had gone down. It was HOT. Ambling toward the Entrance/Exit, we mused about getting back 'stage'... Carter remarked he had seen the busses. 'Where?' I demanded. 'Come on...' So we made our way to the back of the building, that I had wondered about all along.
There were 4 of them... probably 2 were Jamey Johnson's, because he has a touring band. Probably 2 were Merle's because he has a touring band, as well, Kris hitching a ride because he usually flies anymore, performing solo.
There were 3 or 4 Cowboys back there, trying to convince the Troopers to let them back. Somebody came out and said they could go back, then walked over to us. 'Are you with the band?' he asked. 'Yes!' I said. 'No,' my cohorts said... I forgot to brief them. Needless to say, we couldn't go back, regardless of some heartfelt pleading.
Heading on toward the parking lots, I finally pleaded for a rest. There was an
available bench where we could sit. Lo and behold, as soon as we sat down,
fireworks started! We sat there and watched the whole charade`. I found a 5 1/2
minute video below that is pretty much what we saw if you are inclined to see
them. We were seeing them from the opposite direction, and they were going off in front of the FULL MOON! That was pretty impressive.
We knew it was getting close to the end of the concert. Not that either Merle or Kris were running out of hits, by any means, but you know, each song beyond a certain point, you think is pushing the envelope. In all, there were 25 songs. Pretty good for a $28 ticket, if you want to look at it from that way.
So, when Merle went into 'Oakie From Muskogee', the crowd entralled around him thinking this could be the last song.... Kris sang harmony whether Merle wanted him to or not. After the second verse and chorus, Kris stepped up to the mike and sang, 'We don't smoke our draft cards in Muskogee.' Dumbfounded, Merle jerked a strange look at him. Kris continued... 'We ain't never heard of pitchin' woo.' Merle's lip curled... 'We don't shoot that deadly marijuana.' Merle's eyebrows went up. 'We get drunk like God wants us to do.' Then a silly grin from Merle and you can almost hear a chuckle, he joined back in on the chorus.
The applause was for the song...and what Kris did to it. I'd always heard that punch line attributed to Willie... but who knows? Them guys had all been around each other too long. If Merle wasn't letting Kris shine on that song, his next move was heroic.
Merle Haggard stepped up to the mike and said... 'Why me, Lord?'
The crowd went berserk! There was no longer Merle fans with polite
applause... or Kris fans with polite applause. Merle united this audience with
his own appreciation of Kris' talent. Of all the number one hits he's had in his
career, he chose to honor Kris with the only number one Kris had as a singer.
Merle did the first verse. By the time they got to 'Lord, help me, Jesus,' it
was Kris' song again. A fitting finale`. And they walked off the stage together.
Thank you, Kris, for coming to see me.
Tiana Dreymor August 3, 2012
And He's Gonna Do It AGAIN!
I got my ticket!
May 17, 2017
Here we are!
Diane, from West Virginia,
Me, from Columbus, OH,
Friends meeting for the first time!
[Update: September 28, 2016.
It is with a badly broken heart I relate the loss of our friend, Kathleen, who died unexpectedly yesterday. Diane and I are devastated.]